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Living in a Furniture Store

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"Oh, they live in a furniture showroom."

In the Standardized Sitcom Housing that Dom Com families live in, things are always well organized, clean and tidy: no open books are ever left on the coffee table, and no shoes are ever sitting randomly by the front door, no clothes are strewn on the floor (unless Chekhov left them there). You'd almost think that they were living in a furniture store.

Oh, sure, there'll be arguments about doing dishes or housework, and they may demonstrate this with excessive waste, or just allude to how messy it is. But beyond that, nothing clutters the place up, and the junk is at least in one place, out of the way — possibly in an Exploding Closet. Sometimes the place may be doused in grime and stains, but will still probably be free from mess.

This is especially noticeable when the inhabitants are stated and shown to be lazy, slobbish, or disorganized. This may be a deliberate design choice as well, indicating a Neat Freak or someone who prefers an Ascetic Aesthetic for whatever reason.

In more practical concerns, whether it is with actors or in animation there is logistical issues with trying to maintain continuity from shot to shot and there may be safety concerns of tripping or sliding on random junk. The Dirt Forcefield remains in place unless there is a narrative reason to get scuffed. A director may also want to enforce The Law of Conservation of Detail, as too much stuff can become a visual distraction.

See also: "Friends" Rent Control, The Beautiful Elite, Hollywood Homely, Product Placement, Cow Tools. Contrast with Men Can't Keep House. Compare Pottery Barn Poor and First World Problems.

This does not include cases of people actually living in furniture stores.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has an unusual case of this. Mami's house in the TV airing was sparse and clean, like a student's apartment bought one piece at a time. Considering her situation, it's justified. She even apologises for how unready it is for guests. This might have only been due to the cost of drawing animated clutter, because the Blu-Ray release packs her house full of stuff. It still looks like a furniture store, just a higher-end one.

    Comic Books 
  • In Red Robin, Tim Drake's entire apartment looked like an Ikea ad that had never been lived in or had a speck of dust in it. This was especially jarring considering just how unbelievably messy it had been established he kept his private quarters during Robin (1993).

    Films — Animation 
  • Rare animated aversion in Whisper of the Heart: Mr. Tsukishima is a librarian, Mrs. Tsukishima is a graduate student, and the family's tiny apartment is literally stuffed with books and papers. Even the elder sister moving out halfway through the film hardly makes a dent in the omnipresent clutter.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bridget Jones' Diary: Bridget's flat is very tidy for a depressed singleton. Near the end, Chekhov left a pair of running shoes near the front door, which she quickly puts on her bare feet so she can chase Mark Darcy into the snow.
  • A satire of this trope is in Fight Club, complete with a catalog overlay.
  • Played with in The Hobbit. In the main timeline, Bilbo's house is very clean with everything in place, showing how uptight and tidy he is. But sixty years later, Bag End noticeably has more books, and things scattered on the floors and tables, showing his Character Development.
  • Used deliberately in Juno: The MacGuff and Bleeker houses are realistically average-looking, while Mark and Vanessa live an a pricey new development which Vanessa seems to have decorated with the merchandise from an Ikea. After she adopts the baby, however, her night table becomes appropriately cluttered.
    Juno: Nothing's wrong, I'm just allergic to fine home furnishings.
  • In the 1997 informative video The Kids Guide to the Internet, the furniture is barely used and lines the walls around the room, with the computer dead-center. Sears HomeLife Furniture is thanked in the credits.
  • Pleasantville: the movie revolves around how perfect everything in Pleasantville is, though the plot eventually interferes.
  • A literal example with The Room. The furniture was purchased from a thrift store display window and placed exactly as it was. Hence, none of the chairs face the television, and it does not look inhabited. According to The Disaster Artist, the crew had to scramble to buy picture frames to give at least some impression that human beings regularly resided in Johnny's apartment, and the turbulent nature of the production meant that the placeholder images of spoons were left in, which only added to the artificiality of the set.

  • Harry Potter: 4 Privet Drive, but justified since Aunt Petunia is a Neat Freak. It's even lampshaded in the fifth book when Tonks comments that the extreme cleanliness of the house is a "bit unnatural." Harry's own room, by contrast, is as messy as you'd expect from a teenager who'd rather be anywhere else.
    • By contrast, the Weasleys' house The Burrow is described as messy, down to the Wellington boots and old cauldrons by the front door.
  • Rod Allbright Alien Adventures: When Rod investigates Billy Becker's house, he quickly notices that it looks like a showroom, with impersonal furnishings and no signs of daily use. It's because "Billy" is actually the Human Disguise of a notorious extraterrestrial criminal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inverted on Black Books where the living space (also a place of business!) was unspeakably messy. There were molluscs on the pipes. There was a dead badger lying on the floor, presumably for days. One episode's plot was motivated by the fact that the main characters had to leave as the place was being professionally cleaned; two weeks later, it was back to its usual squalor. That episode ended with a piece of toast falling from the ceiling onto a character's head. And there's the patch of sticky floor, intentionally left that way to stop "children running around". To demonstrate how abysmally squalid the place is, the professional cleaner runs a white-gloved finger through the air, and when he holds it out for inspection it is covered in grime.
  • Despite how many times it had been trashed by monsters, and what traumas or bizarre living arrangements the family are currently dealing with, the Summers' house of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is rarely less than spotless. This was Lampshaded by the gang a couple of times in Season 6.
    Anya: "This is a Slayer's house, why aren't there any weapons lying around?!"
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • At the start of season 3, Wilson Fisk's "house arrest" penthouse suite in the Presidential Hotel is completely barren and devoid of furniture save for a single table in the living space on the first floor, as well as the fully furnished bedroom and the penthouse's secret "mission control" room where Fisk can give orders to his criminal flunkies. Midway through the season, Fisk's personal belongings begin to be moved into the penthouse, and by episode 7, the place is fully furnished in preparation for Vanessa's return in episode 12.
    • The condo where Foggy lives with Marci is rather sleek and nicely kept after.
  • The various Degrassi series do this far too often: especially in the earlier shows, every home looks exactly like a stage set. It wasn't until Degrassi: The Next Generation that we got to see messy rooms, and then it was only with characters who really demanded it (Emma and Peter live in the basement, complete with all the basement clutter, while Alex's mother is an alcoholic, abused wreck).
  • In Everybody Loves Raymond, despite mother-in-law Marie's constant digs about all the dirt and mess, Ray and Debra's house seems remarkably clean — just as clean, in fact, as neat-freak Marie's house (minus the plastic wrap on the furniture).
  • Friends either averts or justifies this.
    • Justified in the case of Monica and Rachel's apartment: Monica is a neat freak, and doesn't like people moving furniture around. However even the furniture is eclectic and mismatched, and the decorating (like the famous purple walls and frame over the door) are more homey than you see on most shows.
    • When Rachel moves in with Phoebe, she goes overboard at Pottery Barn. Ross remarks that the living room now "looks like page 72 of the catalog."
    • Joey and Chandler's apartment managed to accomplish looking much more lived-in and normal despite the general lack of clutter, though this was probably in part because of the colors used and that most of it looked assembled bit-by-bit rather than carefully arranged and bought all at once.
    • Also averted when Joey briefly moves into his own apartment. While the apartment does have brand new furniture, the rest of the gang comments that the furniture is quite odd (such as a panther coffee table or a random white dog statue). Also, Joey ends up moving back in with Chandler after it's revealed he couldn't pay for the apartment or all of his brand new furniture.note 
  • Married... with Children: You'd think the Bundys would be absolute slobs, but apparently, their house is tidier than yours. Their empty kitchen might have prompted the joke that the Bundys never actually had food in their house, rather than Peg being a lazy housewife.
  • Malcolm in the Middle averts this one and also hangs a Lampshade on it: not only does their house seem to have the normal amount of mess that an average house would have, but after Francis invited his hoodlum friends over (who are so destructive that it only takes three of them to turn the house into the same kind of wreck one would expect from a Wild Teen Party), they even notice their house looks "too clean" after they manage to clear all the mess left behind. So, the boys dirty it up a bit.
    • A latter-season Cold Open has Lois spill something on the rug, then vigorously clean it up, then notice how the overly clean spot forms an "anti-stain". So she sprinkles some potting soil over it and grinds it in with her foot.
  • In Monk, Adrian Monk's apartment is like this, but it's justified: Monk suffers from several neuroses, obsessive compulsive disorder and (among many many more phobias) a strong fear of germs and dirt. So not only is his apartment spotlessly clean, but he also gets jittery if any item is moved even a millimeter from where it's supposed to be, as happens whenever other people are in his apartment (aside maybe from Natalie, Sharona, or Captain Stottlemeyer).
  • Seinfeld is excused since the title character is a neat freak, but it would have felt out of place otherwise, considering how "ordinary" the people are.
  • Played with on Sherlock:
  • Some Britcoms including Only Fools and Horses, Father Ted and The Royle Family all have relatively clean homes, though the furniture all looks old, well used and authentic for the place/time.
  • Completely averted in Life: Charlie's house does look amazingly tidy, but that's because Charlie's house is massive and has no furniture whatsoever, though he does keep a Room Full of Crazy handy. It's a Zen thing.
  • The Big Bang Theory: The guys' apartment is this (due to Sheldon's OCD habits). Penny's, on the other hand, is usually a mess. Sheldon even commented that Penny's apartment is just disorganized, not dirty. (This after he straightens it up.)
  • How I Met Your Mother: Zig-Zagged. The couch area is usually rather clean but the rear area frequently has some of Ted's W.I.P. (ranging from drawings and assignments to 7' Empire State Building models) left out in the open and the bedrooms are realistically messy. Barney's apartment, on the other hand, is always terrifyingly clean.
    • This is by design as Barney wants to discourage his dates from feeling too comfortable.
  • All in the Family has a pretty clean and sparse living room (though the furniture, especially Archie's famous chair, looks suitably old and worn). Considering the amount of running around in each episode, along with being filmed in front of a live studio audience, they couldn't really be bothered to fill the setting with too much junk.
  • The Golden Girls is a prime example. There's very rarely anything out unless it's specifically needed for that scene. The bedrooms are basically furniture and a few knickknacks, and the beds are always perfectly made. It's even more improbable considering they live in Florida and almost surely don't have a basement for storage. They have a garage, but it's at one point home to mink cages (when the girls try to breed minks) and a small collection of stuff, then later empty when they decide to turn it into a guest room. Then suddenly in the first episode of S7, the living room is crammed with junk that the girls are sorting through, deciding what to keep, toss, or bring to storage. Where did it all come from?
  • Played with in an episode of Murphy Brown. Frank normally lives like a rich, tidy bachelor who's never home: His apartment is huge but has nothing in it but a TV, a chair, and an exercise machine. At one point he tries to construct a normal life, and invites his collegaues over for dinner. They enter to find the place fully furnished. One of them picks a catalog up off an endtable, and notices that the apartment looks exactly like page 12.
  • The Montgomery and Marin houses on Pretty Little Liars. The Montgomery house has two teenagers, a dad who couldn't care less about the family, really, and the exceptionally busy Mama Ella, who seems to run an Art Gallery, raise the two kids by herself, teach at the High School, and know everyone in town. The Marin house has just Hanna and her mother Ashley, who works constantly, but the house is always spotless. Like, weirdly clean. Justified with the Hastings family. They're so rich they probably have several maids.
  • Almost true on a episode on an episode of Laverne & Shirley. Lenny and Squiggy go on a game show and their prize could be a living room set. It rolls forward, scooping them up and one of them said "We gotta live here?"
  • Arrested Development plays the trope straight and justifies it at first, since the Bluth family is forced to move into a full-furnished model home that has never been lived in before. George Michael leans on the fourth wall when he complains that movie homes never look lived in, then opens a cupboard to reveal shelves that are entirely empty except for the one food item he's looking for. It's a Running Gag that the workmanship is incredibly shoddy, however, and damage done to the home in any given episode is retained with meticulous detail in subsequent episodes, so that by the end of the series, the place is a dump.
  • The Cosby Show: Cliff and Claire have full-time jobs in demanding careers and four kids living in the house, yet nothing is ever out of place and the only chore you ever see anybody do is cooking. AND the whole family has enough spare time on their hands to completely rearrange the house and enact elaborate fantasies such as teaching Theo what living on your own is like. Theo's room, on the other hand, almost always looks like the aftermath of a laundry hamper explosion.
  • In-universe in The Mentalist episode "Ruby Slippers". Jane and Van Pelt are examining the childhood bedroom of a murder victim, which is very precisely decorated but with no real elements of individuality; Van Pelt mentions that it "looks like a furniture catalog threw up in here". Given that it's decorated with classical masculine themes, Jane deduces that the victim's father probably decorated it to surround his son with "manly" energy after discovering that his son was gay.
  • New Girl: The four roommates' loft is spotless and stylish. Justified — Schmidt is an obsessive Neat Freak, and when Jess freaks him out enough that he stops cleaning it descends into a pig pen overnight.
  • Speechless also averts this, in that the DiMeo's house is a crappy little fixer-upper with a fair amount of mess everywhere.
  • From Season 8 onwards in Supernatural, the Winchesters take up permanent residence in the Men of Letters Bunker outside of Lebanon, Kansas. It's full of libraries, multiple bedrooms, a garage full of vintage cars, and more. Justified, as it was used by the Men of Letters back in the 1950s before they went inactive, and it was meant to act as a headquarters for the organization's chapters in America; the books in the libraries are all about monster and supernatural lore for research, there's a bedroom for every member of the organization, and the cars most likely belong to the now-deceased members.
  • Schitt's Creek: Several characters notice that Ted's apartment looks like a furniture showroom and he is delighted to explain that he bought more than one entire room online from a furniture store that was changing out their showroom.
  • Breaking Bad: This is justified with Walter White's condo which he purchases once his marriage becomes strained due to Skyler finding out that he's been cooking meth to pay the bills. He purchases the showroom model "as is", despite the agent telling him it's only for show, this isn't the actual condo that he'd be living in. Walt "persuades" him to sell it anyway using the considerable amount of extra cash he's earned selling drugs.

     Visual Novel 
  • In Cafe Enchante, Rindo's apartment is noted to be very clean, modern and sleek but Kotone quickly notices how empty and devoid of anything personal of Rindo's. Justified as Rindo remarks that he only comes into his apartment to sleep as he eats out almost every day and Rindo believes he doesn't deserve anything nice due to the incident where he was almost forced to kill his own little sister.

  • In Shortpacked!, Drew's freakishly neat apartment is contrasted with Ethan's cluttered, toy-filled space. Their conflict comes to a head when Drew, who has been nagging Ethan about his collecting habits, refuses to display even one toy in his home as a gesture of compromise.

    Web Videos 
  • One of the first clues viewers had that YouTube's lonelygirl15 wasn't a real person was the observation that all of the visible furnishings in her room came from Target.

    Western Animation  
  • The Simpsons: Zig-zags this trope, with some episodes portraying the house as a pig sty, while others showing the house as being immaculately cleaned by the obsessive super-housewife Marge. In one episode after an entire day of Marge cleaning until the place sparkled, the family comes in and goes into the kitchen. The door swings in as they go into the kitchen and when it swings open (two seconds later) the room is a disaster, with debris and food everywhere.
  • Futurama, Leela's apartment is almost completely spartan, while Fry and Bender's apartment is always disgusting (just the way they like it).
  • Taz-Mania: Being a parody of typical sitcom family, the Tasmanian Devils' home is like this. The exception is Taz's room, which is literally a cave whose only furnishing is a rock that he sleeps on.
  • The Hills' house on King of the Hill could be a justified case of this trope, as it has been shown numerous times that Hank Hill is quite particular about cleanliness and order. He's also a decent craftsman, so making small repairs around the house is no stretch for him.
  • Justified with the Puppington household (mostly) in Moral Orel: Bloberta is such a Neat Freak that her cleaning supplies have cleaning supplies. Which makes it extra jarring to see that Shapey's room is extremely cluttered from all the stuff that was given to him to shut him up, and equally jarring to see it in disarray in "Sacrifice" after she goes searching in a panic for Dr. Potterswheel's handkerchief. Most other households play this trope pretty straight, one notable exception being Nurse Bendy's apartment, which is rather cluttered.